Does an Alaska Airlines Flight Losing its Door Plug Qualify as a Crime?

The FBI has contacted passengers on the fateful flight

Alaska Airlines flight missing door plug
One Alaska Airlines flight, sans door plug.
NTSB via Getty Images

There are certain things that you probably take for granted when flying — that the airplane’s cabin won’t develop any massive holes in it, for example. Unfortunately, this was not the case on a fateful Alaska Airlines flight earlier this year in which the door plug blew out. The whole thing was the stuff of travel nightmares (and writers alluding to travel nightmares) — and, unsurprisingly, it’s prompted lawsuits.

Something clearly went very wrong on the flight in question. Now, a new development in the case has raised a slightly different question: did a crime take place?

The Associated Press’s David Koenig reports that the FBI has been reaching out to passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight with a distinctive message: they are “possible victim[s] of a crime.” That comes from a letter cited by the AP which was written by someone at the FBI and conveyed to travelers on the flight. Attorney Mark Linquist, who is working with some of the passengers, conveyed the letter to the AP.

As Koenig points out, the FBI treating this matter as a possible crime represents a shift in policy from the U.S. government’s handling of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes several years ago.

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News of the FBI’s investigation does seem to have resonated with the family members of some of the victims of the earlier crashes, as NPR reports. Mark Pegram, whose son Sam was killed in one 737 MAX crash, made comments to that effect to NPR “We’ve known it for five years, and I think the rest of the world is finally waking up to it, that these weren’t just isolated incidents,” he said.

The letters that the FBI sent to passengers on the recent Alaska Airlines flight didn’t provide many details about the case. “A criminal investigation can be a lengthy undertaking, and, for several reasons, we cannot tell you about its progress at this time,” the agency wrote.


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